Sunday, 5 March 2017


4 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK HERE
On Goodreads: HERE

How I discovered this book: I'd read The Beaufort Bride (liked it) and The Beaufort Woman (loved it), so I thought I'd try another by Ms Arnopp.  The subject of this book is Katherine (Katheryn) Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII, a woman who has always interested me.

I loved how this book was structured, ie, the whole story told from four different first person points of view.  It starts off during the Pilgrimage of Grace, the uprisings in the north following Henry's reformation of the English church, and this part is told from the point of view of Margaret, Katherine's stepdaughter from her second marriage.  Showing events at court and in the country from this young girl's point of view was an artful way of giving the backdrop to Katherine's life before she married the King, and I very much liked Ms Arnopp's invention about Margaret being infatuated with well-known rake Francis Bryan.

Next, Katherine's own section.  I liked it, but thought it a little rushed through; I had no sense of years passing, and occasionally I felt I was having facts about her life related to me, rather than being told a story.  One minute Katherine would be hoping she could reconcile Henry's family, and in the next paragraph it would be done, and the Anne Askew affair/the threat of Katherine's own arrest was over and done with in a few pages.  But I did still like it, which is a nod to Ms Arnopp's ability to keep the reader turning the pages - and I'm the first one to moan if a book is too long-winded!  Henry VIII was portrayed so well, and it got much better towards the end, with Katherine's desperation at being ousted as soon as people like Edward Seymour realised Henry was dying.

And then we come to the other well-known rake, Thomas Seymour.  This part was excellent.  I like that Ms Arnopp did not tell the story of Seymour and Katherine as star-crossed lovers; her insight into the chancer that he probably was is a terrific piece of writing.  I've read before about the sexually orientated rough and tumbles between him and the young Elizabeth Ist and found the scenario most peculiar, as Katherine was not only aware of but actually witnessed them (and even joined in) on occasion, but in this book I had the feeling that she would put up with anything just to keep Thomas's love, rather than being naive about what was really going on.  

The story is ended with a short part from Elizabeth's point of view, as we learn about the aftermath of Katherine's time as queen and subsequent errors of judgement, though, indeed, some would say that she at last found some true happiness.  I liked the viewpoint that Katherine had an influence on how Elizabeth conducted herself in later years, too; she probably did.

I am sure I will be back for another book by this author in the not too distant future. 


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